Does having asthma affect travel insurance premiums?

Asthma inhaler

October 6, 2015

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There are various factors which could potentially affect the travel insurance premiums which you are quoted, some of which are unfortunately out of your control. Like your age for example – the older you are the more expensive it will be as the assumption is you are more likely to make a claim.

There are also certain aspects that affect premium prices that you do control, like your travel destination. Indeed, where you’re planning on travelling to is important, so bear this in mind if you’re making arrangements to visit a recognized war zone or place of civil unrest/known conflict (the Foreign Office website has a list of countries which they urge you not to travel to).

If the globe-trotter in you still insists on going to a troubled location then be prepared to pay mega bucks for the opportunity from an insurance perspective. Again, location is everything if you’re seriously considering jetting off to America any time soon.

Despite it being a hugely popular destination for many of us – New York, LA, Las Vegas and Washington being just four very good reasons why – it routinely means your travel insurance policy premium is going to (and as they like to say Stateside) ‘go large’. Predominantly as a result of the US being classed as the highest rated medical area on the planet, due to medical costs generally being so extortionate.

So along with age and destination, what else determines how much travel insurance you’re going to pay? Pre-existing medical conditions are the biggie here, which means should you have suffered in the past from a range of health conditions, then be prepared to both disclose every last detail of it and pay the travel insurance policy price in recognition of it. Providing your insurer will touch you in the first place.

Along with the more obvious (and serious) health implications like respiratory conditions (relating to the lungs or breathing), any heart, kidney, liver, circulatory or cerebral conditions, stroke or central nervous system disorders, cancerous, psychological and terminal conditions, managed health problems like diabetes and asthma fall into this category and are often treated in a similar fashion by travel insurers, rightly or wrongly.

So when asking the question as to whether or not asthma sufferers are subjected to travel insurance premium issues and discrepancies then the answer, sadly is yes they do.

As of 2014 statistics suggested that some 5.4 million people in the UK were receiving on-going treatment for asthma, which equates to a figure in the region of 1 in 12 adults and 1 in 11 children.

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While many sufferers’ accounts and day-to-day experiences of living with the condition vary wildly (with some often going weeks or perhaps months without having flare-ups, compared to others who recount severe and frequent attacks), all those diagnosed with the condition are resigned to a life of taking medication to help best control its occurrence, when and where.

Essentially asthma belongs to a class of medical condition colloquially referred to as ‘chronic’ rather than ‘life-threatening’, meaning that although it doesn’t represent a serious and perpetual risk to the sufferers immediate health and wellbeing it can prove to fatal on rare and sometimes complicated occasions, whilst there remains no known cure available for those diagnosed with the ailment.

Asthma is regarded as a pre-existing health condition so is susceptible to higher travel insurance policy premiums

Returning to the subject of just how asthma can implicate those of you looking to take out a dedicated travel insurance policy, and irrespective of those with the condition believing that for the most part their very existence isn’t compromised by the likelihood of a serious asthma attack, Asthma UK predicts that 75% of those people are not in control of their asthma on a daily basis when push comes to shove.

The charitable organisation also believes that outside interference’s such as air pollution pose a serious threat when asthma sufferers are taken out of their normal (and relative) comfort zone and place themselves at the mercy of foreign climates and a subsequent change to our body’s accepted routines and equilibrium. All of which helps to explain why travel insurance policy providers don’t exactly bend over backwards to accommodate asthma sufferers when it comes to affording them competitively priced premiums.

As we noted above, the way travel insurers see things is that someone affected by a pre-existing medical condition is statistically more likely to put in a claim on the insurance plan than a comparative healthy policyholder.

This almost instantaneously puts them ill at ease and pretty much immediately filtered into the ‘high risk’ camp, on the largely unfounded basis that they ‘could’ end up costing the insurer money.

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Unfortunately there’s no way to avoid paying higher premiums on travel insurance cover if you disclose your asthma condition, which may we remind you is imperative you do if you are a sufferer.

Although the temptation to overlook admitting your health implication might be strong, we’d always strongly advise against taking this course of action as neglecting to mention any existing medical condition will almost always automatically invalidate an existing policy agreement, as well as leaving the policyholder seriously out of pocket should they need to make a claim.

Regardless of how much you are quoted in terms of travel insurance premiums in the event of you declaring your underlying asthma condition, you’ll often be requested to attend a medical screening procedure prior to any policy being sanctioned, while obtaining a declaration from your GP implying that the insured-party is deemed fit to travel is sometimes a pre-requisite.

This documentation is especially important for those looking to fly overseas, as air travel is recognised as potentially contributing to asthma symptoms, most notably due to reduced cabin pressure.

Again, as part and parcel of a widely understood and accepted travel insurance quote process for those of you diagnosed as being an asthma sufferer, the would-be cover provider will put a series of qualifying questions to the proposer with a view to ascertaining the severity of the asthma. These habitually include such posers as determining at what age the proposer was when they were first diagnosed with asthma, if they are a smoker, what and how many different types of medication they are on to combat the respiratory condition, if the person has ever been hospitalized in the past 12 months as a direct result of an asthma attack and if at any juncture they’ve been prescribed oxygen to treat the symptoms.